Korean War Armistice Signing Anniversary

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Truce In Korea 1953

This past July 27th marked the 59th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that officially put the Korean War on hold. It was a silent holiday that went nearly unnoticed by the world. However, for those soldiers who lived through the Korean War, this was an important day, no matter what side they fought on, and many gathered to remember and to celebrate.

In North Korea, this day was celebrated with war veterans visiting Panmunjom to pledge their unchanging loyalty to North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un. Fireworks were also fired to celebrate the day. The commemorations are meant to kindle patriotism and loyalty in North Koreans, and especially the young, by showcasing veterans who fought for their country, said Kim Yeon-su of Korea National Defense University in Seoul. Ahead of the anniversary, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its long-standing demand that the United States sign a peace treaty with North Korea to replace the armistice. However, the United States continues to stand by its claim that normal ties will only come after North Korea abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons and takes other steps towards change. Continue reading

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In the News – Obama issues proclamation on Korean War Armistice anniversary

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In the News – Obama issues proclamation on Korean War Armistice anniversary

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation Friday to commemorate the end of the Korean War 59 years ago, as the Pentagon hosted a formal ceremony to mark the anniversary.

“Today, on the 59th anniversary of the Military Armistice Agreement signed at Panmunjom, we honor all who served in the Korean War, and we pay lasting tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives for our Nation,” Obama said in the proclamation. Panmunjom is a truce village in the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas.

The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953, after three years of fierce fighting between the invading North, supported by China, and the South with the help of the U.S. and other U.N.-coalition forces.

“Most of all, we honor the tens of thousands of Americans who gave their lives defending a country they had never known and a people they had never met,” Obama said. “Their legacy lives on not only in the hearts of the American people, but in a Republic of Korea that is free and prosperous; an alliance that is stronger than ever before; and a world that is safer for their services.”

More than 50,000 U.S. service members were killed during the war, according to government data.

Obama called upon all Americans to observe the day with “appropriate ceremonies and activities” to honor Korean War veterans.

He has issued the proclamation each year since taking office in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon held a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the anniversary.

Named, “Heroes Remember,” it began with a wreath-laying ceremony to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war
In his speech, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the Korean War is not “America’s forgotten war.”

“Today, thanks to the service and sacrifice of our veterans six decades ago, South Korea has grown strong and independent. South Korea is a trusted ally, an economic power, a democracy, a provider of security in the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world. To the veterans of this war: your sacrifice made a difference,” he said.

He pointed out the contrary fate of North Korea, “which remains a dangerous and destabilizing country that is bent on provocation and is pursuing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while its people are left to starve.”

Panetta said the U.S. needs to take a crucial lesson from the Korean War, in which lots of troops paid a heavy price due to a lack of necessary training and the right weapons.

“They were sent into a tough fight with little preparation,” he said. “That is a mistake that we will not make again. And that’s why today, coming out of a decade of war, we have put forward a strategy-driven defense budget to meet the challenges of the future.”

The Pentagon may face $500 billion in spending cuts on top of the $487 billion already being implemented.

Congress is stuck in a political deadlock, however, ahead of presidential elections in November.

Panetta emphasized the urgency for the U.S. to beef up combat readiness.

“The world remains a dangerous place, and America must maintain the decisive military edge. We must remain the most powerful military power on the face of the earth,” he said. “With this strategy, we will not only have the strongest military, but make no mistake: we will be ready to deter aggression — anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”

Original Article 

Two Years Later

Amidst the frenzy of North Korea’s recent rocket launch, another very important day came and passed. For many of you, this may have been just another day in your life. But whether you knew it or not, March 26th marked the second anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan naval ship.

March 26th 2010 was just an average day for the 104 crew members of the Cheonan. They were on a routine patrol near Baekryong Island, which is an extremely tense maritime border with North Korea, when they were suddenly torpedoed. The ship tore apart into two and sank to the bottom of the sea, killing 46 soldiers. Continue reading

In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

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In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the North Korean authorities ordered the holding of provincial cultural events along similar lines to the famed ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastics. However, in Yangkang Province the weather in the run-up to the event meant that this created considerable displeasure, prompting some wealthier parents to make significant payments to avoid participation.

According to a source from Yangkang Province, a two-hour Arirang-style performance called ‘Shine, Shrine of the Revolution’ went ahead in Hyesan Stadium on the 15th, apparently causing the watching citizens of the city to agree that “We are in tears just watching those kids perform so well when they haven’t had enough to eat.”

Starting in February and continuing throughout the winter, preparations for the performance were intense, so a number of middle and upper class families apparently paid 60-100,000 North Korean Won to get their elementary- and middle school-age children out of it.

“The provincial education office issued an order telling schools to organize the performance for themselves, so the students in charge of preparing the card section had a really hard time making it,” the source explained. ”The intensity of the dance practice was too harsh as well; there were many kids with nosebleeds.”

“They said it was hell, spending all day in the icy cold practicing,” she went on. “Even in April it is about 10℃ in Yangkang Province, cold enough to be wearing padded clothes at midday. The students had to bring lunch, and those who did not practiced the whole day starving”.

“Does ‘Arirang’ know that these children are starving and suffering like this?” Hyesan residents could reportedly be heard to wonder, referring euphemistically to Kim Jong Eun.

Provincial performances of this nature were first initiated when Kim Jong Il attended a mass gymnastics event in Jagang Province in August, 2009, declaring that regional variations on a theme be prepared nationwide. These events are ordinarily held from Liberation Day on August 15th to Party Foundation Day on October 10th, but this year saw special performances organized to mark the April 15th holiday, requiring preparations to go ahead during the winter.

However, on April 15th Rodong Shinmun released news of the Yangkang Province performance, saying that it had rendered the stadium “aflutter with joy.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Lee vows to retaliate against N. Korea if provoked

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In the News – Lee vows to retaliate against N. Korea if provoked

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that South Korea will thoroughly retaliate against North Korea if provoked again, amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s plan to launch a long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings.

North Korea has recently threatened to launch a “sacred war” against South Korea over Seoul’s defamation of the dignity of its new leader Kim Jong-un and his late father, Kim Jong-il.

The communist country has also warned it will take the “strongest countermeasures which no one can imagine” if South Korea “dares find fault with its nuclear deterrent and satellite launch” at an international nuclear summit under way in Seoul.

South Korea will “thoroughly retaliate against North Korea” if Pyongyang provokes it, Lee said in a video message to a music concert in Seoul marking the second anniversary of the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North. Continue reading

In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead

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In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead

(Reuters) – North Korea on Sunday rejected criticism of its planned long-range missile launch which threatens to upset its only major benefactor, China, and put relations with the United States back in the freezer just as they seemed to be starting to thaw.

Political analysts say the launch, which would violate U.N. resolutions on the heavily sanctioned state, is aimed at boosting the legitimacy of its young new ruler Kim Jong-un who inherited power after his father’s death in December.

“The peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state,” the North’s state KCNA news agency said.

North Korea says it is using the rocket to launch a satellite to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler.

The United States, and others, say it is much the same as a ballistic missile test and therefore off-limits for the isolated state which has for years been trying to build a nuclear arsenal.

Washington, which last month agreed to supply North Korea with food in exchange for a suspension of nuclear tests, missile launches and uranium enrichment and to allow nuclear inspectors into the country, called the planned launch “highly provocative”.

More troubling perhaps for Pyongyang, which is long accustomed to trading invective with Washington, Beijing called the planned launch a “worry” in a rare attempt to put public pressure on its impoverished ally.

The North has invited foreign observers and journalists to attend the launch.

It announced the planned launch on Friday just weeks after the deal with Washington. It will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung.

In April 2009, North Korea conducted a ballistic rocket launch that resulted in a new round of U.N. sanctions, squeezing the secretive state’s already troubled economy and deepening its isolation.

That launch was dismissed as a failure after the first stage fell into the Sea of Japan without placing a satellite in orbit. Another test failed in similar circumstances in 1998.

The new launch is due to take place between April 12-16, to coincide with Kim Il-sung’s centenary celebrations and will coincide with parliamentary elections in South Korea.

Japan has said it would consider deploying PAC3 missile interceptors as it did in a 2009 launch by North Korea.

(Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by David Chance and Jonathan Thatcher)

Original article can be found here.